BBC remakes Brontë classic with added swearing

Emily Brontë’s much-loved novel Wuthering Heights has been adapted by BBC Radio 3 to include foul language.

The station’s new adaptation will feature Heathcliff and Cathy, two of the book’s central characters, swearing as they argue.

While radio broadcasts are not bound by a 9pm watershed, stations are not supposed to air unsuitable material when youngsters are likely to be listening.


There are concerns that school pupils who are studying the book could listen to the adaptation unaware of the BBC’s addition of adult content.

Playwright and theatre director Jonathan Holloway has defended his adaptation of the 1847 classic.

He said: “For me Wuthering Heights is a story of violent obsession, and a tortuous unfulfilled relationship. This is not a Vaseline-lensed experience.


“That’s what I wanted to elbow out, this idea that it’s the cosy greatest love story ever told. It’s not.

“The f-words are part of my attempt to shift the production to left of field, and to help capture the shock that was associated with the original book when it was published.”

A spokesman for Radio 3 said: “The use of strong language by some characters in this production was not undertaken lightly. Language warnings will be broadcast at the beginning of the drama.”

The programme is set to air at 8pm on Sunday.


Last May it was revealed that record numbers of people were complaining about the use of foul language on TV and radio programmes.

Ofcom, the communications regulator, received 500 complaints in the first three months of 2010, and it was asked to rule on a further 1,159 complaints from 2009. These figures represented a significant increase since 2006 when there were 841 complaints.

In 2009 the BBC said it was considering plans to clamp down on swearing even after the 9pm watershed.

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